Chile mine rescue exceeds expectations. Was that orchestrated?

Did the Chilean government officials deliberately create low expectations of their ability to rescue the miners, so that they could later exceed them?

AP Photo
In this screen grab taken from video, Victor Segovia, the fifteenth miner to be rescued from the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile, is shown after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13.

This article about the Chilean miner rescue has a revealing quote. "McAteer said he gave "very high marks" to the Chileans (government officials) for creating lowered expectations by saying that it might take until Christmas to rescue the men — and then consistently delivering results ahead of schedule."

Now keep in mind that Davitt McAteer directed the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

Mr. McAteer appears to believe in behavioral economics. In his view, a good government official lies to the people to calm them down by providing misinformation and then once they expect nothing -- you surprise the people with an unexpectedly strong performance.

This raises at least two questions. 1. What is the best behavioral econonomics work documenting this effect? 2. Does our government actually follow this policy? Are there any unintended consequences of following such a "let's lower expectations" strategy?


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